connolly01Billy Connelly on Enough Rope with Andrew Denton

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Welcome to a very special February edition of ENOUGH ROPE. Billy Connolly has a simple life philosophy - never trust a man who left alone in a room with a tea cosy doesn’t try it on. It’s even better in Scottish. Please welcome the self confessed welder who got away with it, Billy Connolly.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Thanks for having me on.



BILLY CONNOLLY: And what we going to do about them?

ANDREW DENTON: Do you want them moved?



ANDREW DENTON: I'm going to start at the bottom. I've just noticed your shoes.


ANDREW DENTON: Good and evil.

BILLY CONNOLLY: They're good and evil. I bought them in Los Angeles. I was shopping for leopard skin shoes. I'd seen the leather skin in the same shop and I went in and they didn't have my size but I found these and they're wonderful. People think I'm a religious fanatic, a born again shoe guy and I just love it. I love shoes and socks. I like socks as well.

ANDREW DENTON: Does one predominate? Does your mood swing depending on which shoe?

BILLY CONNOLLY: No, there's no sort of, I forget about them once I've got them on until people remind me. I guess I've worn kind of odd clothes a lot you know in my life and I'm often stunned at the effect they have on people. You know people, most people are kind of beige you know? And I'm on an anti-beige campaign you know? Don't be a beigest, because there are like gangs of them waiting for you, you know that.


BILLY CONNOLLY: The next thing you know you'll be playing golf and your life's pretty much over you know?


BILLY CONNOLLY: You'll be rushing out to buy a blazer or something. If you've got a blazer with a badge on it it's already too late you know?


ANDREW DENTON: Golfer's wear the most colourful clothes of any sportsman.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Golfer's dress like tourists in their own houses.


ANDREW DENTON: When you said you were going to buy leopard skin shoes, actual leopard?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye eh no, no just that leopard skin look. I had a great, this is a long and boring story but I had a...



BILLY CONNOLLY: [Laughing] The last thing you say to a guy on a talk show. Let me tell you a long and boring story.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh that would be good Billy yes! Tell me now, I'll get comfortable.


ANDREW DENTON: I'll just go up the back.

BILLY CONNOLLY: No but what I was going to tell you about the shoes, I had a great pair of shoes. They were patent leather kind of brogues a kind of oily, black oily patent leather but the brogue bit was like leopard skin but it was white with black spots. It wasn't that yellowy colour that a leopard is and I was on an aeroplane and the stewardess said 'I love your shoes.' She said, 'Is that leopard?' And I said 'No, actually it's Dalmatian and I swear in my honour this is true. She said 'Dalmatian?' I said 'Yeah I, I get them in Mexico'. She said 'You do not.' I said 'Yes, and the lovely thing is', I said, 'they've got the pups in a cardboard box and I said you just pick the one you want and whack it on the head', and she hit me!


BILLY CONNOLLY: The stewardess on the plane went and said 'Oh my God!' She struck me. I was laughing, but I don't know probably do it. You just, with comedy you just open your mouth and let your belly rattle some days and it can get you in desperate, desperate trouble you know?

ANDREW DENTON: Your fear of turning beige or, or your campaign against beige-ness...


ANDREW DENTON: You've always said, you know, 'I'm never going to be a card carrying grown up'. How are you facing the prospect of turning sixty four?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh well, old is different. Growing old is different from growing up. Aye growing up's another cup of tea altogether. It's not even voluntary. It's other people's idea. Did you, I mean you always hear 'It's time you grew up!' 'You've got some growing up to do boy!' And nobody knows quite what it is. What, what they really mean is it's time you had more beige.


BILLY CONNOLLY: You know, straight trousers and your gaudy clingy weird hair. It's over. It's not 1960 anymore. Grow up! Grow up! You never hear anybody saying I think I'll grow up next week.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Maybe Wednesday. You know have a bit of growing. No nobody knows what it is. What it is, is get as boring is as. Stop having fun and shouting and balling and staying out late and having a laugh and I'm fed up with it. Growing old is great. Well it has its drawbacks but yeah ...


ANDREW DENTON: Well okay what are the drawbacks?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Well some of the, well your doctor loses interest in the front of you.


ANDREW DENTON: What cause it's falling off?

BILLY CONNOLLY: It doesn't work any more. Some days I look at my willy and I go you old bastard I out-lived you!

Laughter and applause

ANDREW DENTON: Are you subtly angling for the Pele advertising campaign for a penile erection?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Has he only got a little willy?

ANDREW DENTON: Well I don't know.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Thank God he's got a flaw. Oh my God I hope all my heroes are like that. I hope they've all got tiny little willies and the penile implants are like fatty stuff that gear they put in people's faces and so distressing. You know that boto, botox. They give you botulism. They put in a disease in your face and I was interviewed by a woman, she's very famous in America. It would be unfair to say her name but she had just had it and it was terrifying because you'd be talking to the audience and you'd turn around and she's looking at you the same...


BILLY CONNOLLY: And she'd, oh that's very funny...and those other ones with the skin, with the, yeah the facelift and you look as if you're in a bottle.


BILLY CONNOLLY: You know it's weird. You sit down and you're bald, your fucking hair disappears down the back of your shirt. If Elvis was alive today his sideburns would be behind his ears.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Isn't it? It's the weirdest and girls are 16 they're getting the breast enlargements in America and the one I heard was they're getting a breast enlargement for passing their exams at school.


BILLY CONNOLLY: And people use to say you know if you don't pass your exams you'll need to get yourself big tits and get out there and make some money.


ANDREW DENTON: Now they get both options.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye and I say clever girls have some tits for your pride and a car.

ANDREW DENTON: The thing is and yeah don't be alarmed, I've seen your willy.


ANDREW DENTON: In fact most of the world have seen your willy.

BILLY CONNOLLY: ...Willy, yeah...

ANDREW DENTON: You've put it out there a lot.


ANDREW DENTON: And then Pamela said that she loved to, so this, to show the world your...


ANDREW DENTON: What's the thing?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I don't like it when I'm doing it. It, it's a great buzz you know? When, it's like being in an accident. After you've done it you can't really remember it very well. It's true. You know, because usually when you do it you're the only one who's naked. You know the cameraman and all those guys are all dressed and the first time I did it was in Scotland. I did it in Australia and in along near Perth at the Pinnacles over in the west there. So I danced bollocky buff round them and people send me pictures of them doing it and the children who always look great, you know the wee sandals and the bare arms and me wife said you'd better stop carrying them around. Not good to have pictures of naked children dancing in the desert you know? They go oh come here Connolly you know? Let's see our hard drive or what you're doing here. I don't think that way you know so I just carry, I think it's the most wonderful thing.

ANDREW DENTON: See it's not unheard of in Australia for people to strip off and run round but they're usually drunk


ANDREW DENTON: ... and I know New Years Eve last year was your 20th anniversary of the last time you had a drink.

BILLY CONNOLLY: That's right yeah.

ANDREW DENTON: What replaces drinking?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Nothing. Nothing. I was a big time drinker and I loved it. It was just the best time until it, then the fun went away and it didn't get so good and I had to quit you know. And I remember thinking alcohol does not make you clever cause I was stuck in a phone box, this was close to the end of the drinking, I was in a phone box in London. One of those red ones with the windows and I couldn't get out.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye and there was nothing wrong with the box, it was just too much for me to handle. I couldn't...

ANDREW DENTON: There were four options and you couldn't get the right one?

BILLY CONNOLLY: ...No three, the phone's in one of the walls.


ANDREW DENTON: That's true, true.

BILLY CONNOLLY: You know it's hardly Hampton Court maze you know?

ANDREW DENTON: So how do you fight the urge? Do you still have the urge?

BILLY CONNOLLY:I fought, to just now? The drinking?


BILLY CONNOLLY: No I have no urge whatsoever. It kind of surprises me.

ANDREW DENTON: That's a little beige.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye no I just don't, it's just I buy good stuff for my friends in my house and all that but I'm told a lot of ex drinkers do that. You know when you drink a lot you black out sometimes and then usually slowly it comes back. Oh I remember now where I was, oh yeah I remember doing that and I remember doing this and then you go to the next stage which is black outs that you don't remember so in order to remember them, you have to get drunk again so you get two memories. You've got a sober memory and a drunk one because you've become two guys. Your personality just changes and it's almost instant. You have a drink and poomp you're the other guy now and you go Jesus I remember now! I mean, it's very, very quick and ah, so it's so frightening...

ANDREW DENTON: You say nothing replaces it. Did you go through a sort of a faddish thing of trying to find something to replace it? Herbal teas or...



BILLY CONNOLLY: No I didn't. But I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to go you know cause I just went for a drink when I went out you know? That, that it was really difficult to find a place to go socially where people weren't drinking and then I just gave up on the idea and went to places where people drinking and drank water and stuff like that. It's amazing. I don't do any dope. I use to do a bit of that. I don't have anything and I, I just gave up smoking at New Year and, ah well, I didn't smoke ciggies, that's year's ago. I gave that up but I smoked cigars and I kind of regret it.

ANDREW DENTON: Well why did you give it up?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I don't know. I think I did it to please my wife.


ANDREW DENTON: And did it?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah she was well pleased but it's, it's just I miss having a luxury to do you know? Something to squander money on...

ANDREW DENTON: But you've got to have a vice.

BILLY CONNOLLY: I think so you know so I'm looking, I'm looking around.


ANDREW DENTON: Is there...I mean you've spent a lot of time in LA there must be an agency that will find you a vice...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh it's, it's easy. Any town that has a twenty-four hour drive and taxidermist must have an occasional vice you know? I saw that advertised.


BILLY CONNOLLY: A drive-in all night taxidermist. I don't know why anybody would want it you know? People at three in the morning with a dead cat you know?


BILLY CONNOLLY: LA is a wonderful place I was driving to work one day, I was working at Warner Bros and I had a hot rod, a baby blue 1939 Ford and I had the Beach Boys cassette in the machine and it was all that, what was my favourite 'ah Help me Rhonda. Help, help me Rhonda.' Going down the hill to work like that and coming up the hill was Jesus...complete thing, thorns the whole shooting match, sandals and a cross on his shoulder with a wee wheel on the end of it.


BILLY CONNOLLY: So as he didn't wear it out you know? And he's walking up the other way and I thought oh my God I'm glad I live here. It's just brilliant. It's the most beigeless town in the world.

ANDREW DENTON: And what was he doing? Was he promoting a mini-series?

BILLY CONNOLLY: It's just he does it. He's a crazy man. He's, he's not, he's just out there and I spoke to another guy, aye, who's a friend, who is a writer and he's a gay guy and I was telling him about Jesus. He said, 'Oh I know him. I said 'Oh no' and he went 'Oh yes'. So he knew him at the YMCA. I don't know where he parked his cross but he was, he was...


BILLY CONNOLLY: ... Doing stuff at the YMCA. You get this terrible image.

ANDREW DENTON: How fantastic to say 'I know Jesus.'

BILLY CONNOLLY: I'm glad it wasn't Mohammed and people try to kill me.

ANDREW DENTON: What do you make of all that?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Sorry about that.

ANDREW DENTON: No, no, no, all the cartoon stuff, what do you make of that?

BILLY CONNOLLY: It's off its head. It's not, can't anybody take a joke anymore? What the hell I mean it's, I think we should get Bono and Geldof to sort the whole thing out.

Applause and laughing


ANDREW DENTON: Do you think they can?


BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah of course they can. They're making the world a safer place for us all and maybe sneak into the charts at the same time.


ANDREW DENTON: There was a fantastic cartoon in The Sydney Morning Herald today which actually showed all these suicide bombers running from a bus and someone screaming, watch out there's a cartoonist in there.

BILLY CONNOLLY: I was saying on stage I, the suicide bombers I want to see the instructor...


BILLY CONNOLLY: You know, righto lads I'm only going to show you this one time.


BILLY CONNOLLY: I can't believe that you know? I've always thought they need another book. You know beware of people who only have one book. It's like people who only have one CD. You know if you go to somebody's house and they've got one CD it's a strange thing, I'll guarantee it, it's the Carpenters Greatest Hits.


BILLY CONNOLLY: It's just that odd thing isn't it? You know it's not going to be Queen or anything remotely strange.

ANDREW DENTON: But this applies to more than one religion of course. I mean...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Of course it would.

ANDREW DENTON: You are Catholic.

BILLY CONNOLLY: I was a Catholic.

ANDREW DENTON: Yeah, they have one book. Or two books...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah well you're allowed one or two when you're a Catholic. Aye it's kind of strange being a Catholic you know when you're a wee boy. I remember when my parents were signing the book to get me in there. I was looking around and there was pictures of hell on the, this nun had pictures of hell all over her office. It must have been from Dante's inferno or something but it's always amazed me in religion that they can tell you every corner of hell and they can't describe heaven at all. They seem to, have you ever noticed that? Ministers and priests they know, 'Oh you'll be this and burning in the thing eternity' and then you say, 'Oh what happens in heaven?' And they go, 'Oh you sing the praises of God.' I said, 'What, forever?'


BILLY CONNOLLY: You know you sing to him on a Sunday and do good stuff all week you know? No that appears to be the deal. You sing for the rest of your damn life.

ANDREW DENTON: Which is fine if you're a fan of The Carpenters, but...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh that's funny with Jesus being a carpenter isn't it?

Laughter and applause

ANDREW DENTON: Rainy days and Sunday's always get me down.

BILLY CONNOLLY: [Laughing] But Friday's aren't too good either.

ANDREW DENTON: So all this stuff that's happening in the world, I won't labour this too much but ...


ANDREW DENTON: ... The cartooning and so on...


ANDREW DENTON: And you're, you're a man with an incredibly positive outlook on life.

BILLY CONNOLLY: It's nuts. Everybody's nuts except me.


BILLY CONNOLLY: And it's beige that's doing it. It is. The whole thing's crazy. I mean who - have you ever had Jehovah Witnesses come to your door?


BILLY CONNOLLY: Now somebody must open the door and see those dreary people standing there and think that's the people I want to be with.


BILLY CONNOLLY: They must because who else would they recruit you know? You must go, 'Oh my God that's, I must do that. I want to sell a really dreary magazine with a rotten crossword round all these houses to people who have just got out the bath. That's how I want to spend the rest of my life, being sworn at by people like Billy Connolly you know?' And I don't get religion. I just, I don't, I can understand God. I can understand people having a God and believing, cause it's a nice thing to believe that there's a big guy up there looking after everything. It's a kind of consolation that, somebody's making everything nice and he knows that you're quite a nice guy but you do awful things...right? And stuff like that...

ANDREW DENTON: So these people around the world that have been saying you mustn't insult our religion...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah but they can insult everybody else's apparently. You know you, you can run around saying that people should be beheaded and that's perfectly okay well, well I've never read the Koran but I'm sure that's not in it.

ANDREW DENTON: But is it, I mean you've read the Bible or bits of the Bible...


ANDREW DENTON: You know that it can be whatever interpretation you like.

BILLY CONNOLLY: I just bought it a couple of weeks ago actually in Sydney.

ANDREW DENTON: I wont tell you how it ends. It's fantastic.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye. [Laughing]

ANDREW DENTON: You'll love it.

BILLY CONNOLLY: That's very good.


ANDREW DENTON: Thank you. Well you can take any line you like and make it so.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah. I only read about fifteen pages of my Bible so far but I find it difficult to carry on.


ANDREW DENTON: Let's talk about something which is not that but which actually happened here cause you have a long attachment to Australia...


ANDREW DENTON: ...Not just yourself but through your family...

BILLY CONNOLLY: ... I love this place it's a wonderful place...

ANDREW DENTON: When you saw all those images of those, the riots that happened at Cronulla...


ANDREW DENTON: ...And thousands of people attacking...


ANDREW DENTON: ... A handful of Muslims. What was your reaction to that?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I didn't know what to do. I was kind of sad. I don't know, and I still don't think it was much to do with Islam. I mean the guys might be Lebanese and all that but I think it was people throwing their weight around, you know, trying to get their own way with girls and other people getting upset and all that kind of stuff. It didn't seem religiously or racially motivated to me. You know I, I've never found the Australians to be, to be a racist community. I've always felt they were a bit like Alf Garnett. They were too honest about it to be racist you know? A racist is more covert than that like if somebody's going to tell a racist joke, you know how you can tell when somebody's going to tell a racist joke? They do that first.


BILLY CONNOLLY: You know, and that's a racist but when it's wide open like the Australians, all that stuff. I was shocked when they said 'wogs' and, when I came to Australia at first and then when I heard their idea of a wog, it was, I had it wrong. I thought it was the British wog idea the Wiley Oriental Gentlemen and all that and then I heard somebody here saying wog and they meant Italian and I thought well you've got it wrong you know?


BILLY CONNOLLY: If you're going to shout about that get it right for God sake.

ANDREW DENTON: Don't you go trampling on our racism thank you very much.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye! Isn't that, but I've never found it, you know I've heard people saying oh there's an underlying racism in Australia. No there isn't. They mistake boldness for underlying racism. I don't think, and, of course they've got that Aboriginal stuff to draw on, that appalling stuff that happened. But if you go to any race on earth, you don't have to go far back before you find something appalling that they did or something appalling that happened to them. It's just part and parcel of the whole damn deal.

ANDREW DENTON: Was it your first tour here in Brisbane somebody actually attacked you on the stage?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye oh aye I got a... [laughing].

ANDREW DENTON: What happened?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Like it was a Scottish guy. He was a Scottish Australian prison officer and I had told some...

ANDREW DENTON: Sounds happy.

BILLY CONNOLLY: ...Joke thing and he leapt up and whacked me one. As a matter of fact it was really funny. I'll never forget his line. He said my wife's ears are not garbage cans.


BILLY CONNOLLY: And then... [laughing] and he went, I had a long beard at the time and he must have thought my chin came to the end of my beard...


BILLY CONNOLLY: And I said is that the best you can do? And he said no and nutted me.


BILLY CONNOLLY: And somebody sent for the police and in those days I wore a leotard and, tights and a big banana feet you know and for reasons best known to somebody else and I was backstage whining and rubbing my face and the police come running in and they set about me as well cause they thought I was the bad guy.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Give me a break you know. He was long gone so I didn't go back to Brisbane for a long time and then I went back again - it was brilliant. It was. And I did it last week and it was sensational. The people use to be weirder than they are now.

ANDREW DENTON: Says a man who use to wear banana Wellingtons...

BILLY CONNOLLY: I don't know, no they used to get upset and all that you know at swearing. I remember swearing in the, where was I? The Queen Elizabeth Hall and I swore and ah I said I don't think I could say in here and it was like a stampede. They were throwing each other back to get out like a hundred people... You would think somebody had shouted fire and all I said 'Fuck, behave yourself', you know? Never, never shout 'Fuck' in a crowded theatre. They just...and it was really good because it separated them from the people I wanted.


BILLY CONNOLLY: You know the people I wanted stayed and told their friends and these other half-wits stayed away - 'the Beigests'.


BILLY CONNOLLY: See they always, they only knew I was Scottish and they came along because they thought I was one of those guys that sings about the salmon and the river and the snow is on the mountain and my lassie's in the glen. But Scotland you know, Scotland's one of the country's in the world that has mistaken the tourist crap for the culture. And I tell you another wonderful thing about Scotland, I don't think Australians do it, they sing about being far away from Scotland when they're still there.


BILLY CONNOLLY: You know? With the line 'Far across the sea, oh my heart will ever be by him and bonny Scotland'...

ANDREW DENTON: Our Prime Minister John Howard recently talked about what he called vulgarisms in public and how they're...

BILLY CONNOLLY: He's a vulgarism in public.

Laughter and applause

BILLY CONNOLLY: How dare he.


BILLY CONNOLLY: His only function is to let you know what Harry Potter's going to look like when he's old.


ANDREW DENTON: Have you met him?

BILLY CONNOLLY: No I would go miles to avoid meeting him. What a boring little man. What a silly boring little man. I'm out of touch. I thought the AWB was the Average White Band. You know?

ANDREW DENTON: They traded with Iraq for years. It accounted for half their album sales as well. So when he says that vulgarisms are bringing down public discussion, you say?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Bollocks. It's a load of rubbish. I've never heard such crap in my whole life. There are times to swear and times not to swear and if you're, see I swear but I'm very very good at it and no animals were hurt while I was learning how to do it. And there's a rhythm to it [sings] 'That's how you know when somebody's a good swearer. Why don't you go and take a fuck to yourself' [sings].


BILLY CONNOLLY: I tell you what, why don't you fuck off? [Sings] 'But if you go oh you bloody bastard fuck'...


BILLY CONNOLLY: ... It doesn't work. So if you don't swear well, don't swear. Go and practice. Get a wee rhythm machine. You can get on a Casio with a wee Casio thing you can do just rhythms. You can do reggae... [singing]. 'Good to fuck yourself'...


BILLY CONNOLLY: ...'Fuck off' [singing] 'And practice in your house so when you go to the pub you'll be good at it. Like if instead of like, fuck it was whiz, it, it kind of disappears. Oh why don't you just whiz away! You see and people think fuck off means go away. No it doesn't. It means fuck off.'

Applause and laughing

BILLY CONNOLLY: Right because you can actually... I swear you can say to people, go away and they say no. Okay fuck off and they, they and it's international.

ANDREW DENTON: I have to congratulate you, you've just passed Russell Crowe's record in one interview. We thought it would never happen.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh did he swear?

ANDREW DENTON: He didn't stop.

BILLY CONNOLLY: How dare he!


BILLY CONNOLLY: I thought he was...

ANDREW DENTON: Yeah he was mister Frigativeplosive himself.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yes, but we're talking about it.

ANDREW DENTON: Yes. I want to show another clip of yours cause there's many strings to your Banjo and one of which acting and the film you're in with Judi Dench, 'Mrs Brown'.


ANDREW DENTON: Beautiful performance.

BILLY CONNOLLY: ...That was a nice thing.

Playing of movie clip


ANDREW DENTON: So when you turn up to act opposite the actor's actor...


ANDREW DENTON: Judi Dench...


ANDREW DENTON: Do you feel completely relaxed about that?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I do. Well I had to take her out to lunch. I was, it was a bit too much for me and ah but it was an extraordinary circumstance that film. I don't know if anybody's ever done this before. She and I signed to do it before it was written. It was an idea that a Scottish journalist called George Rosy had and, he offered it to me as Brown and I thought, oh my God, yeah. Because when you're a wee boy in Scotland, you know about John Brown. He slept with the Queen, the guy who nipped over the wall and slept with the Queen. So he's a big hero among Scottish sort of working class people. And I thought, I must do this. And he said, I'm thinking of Judi Dench for it. And I said, oh my God. So they called her and went to meet her and she, I still can hardly believe it, she said well if you've genuinely got Billy Connolly, I'll do it. And it wasn't written. We both signed you know?

ANDREW DENTON: That's a very dangerous thing to do.

BILLY CONNOLLY: It's dangerous but don't you find if you do dangerous things good things happen? At certain times in your life you really have to stick your neck out and do things. You know just slightly different from what you've been doing or radically different. But if you want things to change you just have to take, you have to gamble in some way.

ANDREW DENTON: You mentioned before John Brown...


ANDREW DENTON: ...Went over the wall to sleep with the Queen, you actually have had dinner or lunch with the Queen.

BILLY CONNOLLY: I have yeah.

ANDREW DENTON: What is that like?

BILLY CONNOLLY: It's lovely.

ANDREW DENTON: It's not awkward?

BILLY CONNOLLY: It's nice. I didn't want to do it you know? Ah my wife has been very good for me in that way. She keeps pointing out to me that I'm a snob you know and reverse. You know I'm a big hairy working man from the Clyde, I don't do that. And then she said to me one, and I said, 'How am I going to explain this to my friends, you know, that I'm hanging out with these people?' And she said what were you going to say? 'I get an invitation to have dinner with the Queen and I turned it down because I'm working class?' She said, 'That's appalling', she said, 'Try writing that to the Queen. 'I'm sorry I can't come I'm working class.' She'll think you'll need to be certified' and she was absolutely right. I was invited to go and I duly obliged.

ANDREW DENTON: And what happened?

BILLY CONNOLLY:She was very, very nice indeed and, you know sometimes she looked at me like I was from the moon.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Because I didn't know the word 'canter'.

ANDREW DENTON: As in a horse.

BILLY CONNOLLY: I was talking about riding a horse and I had just learned to ride a horse and someone asked me, and I didn't know from trotting to galloping. I said, 'What's that other one in the middle?' And, and she said, 'Canter'. And I said, 'Oh yeah'. She's sitting here next to me. Yeah...

ANDREW DENTON: And does part of your brain sort of scramble at that point? I've got the Queen sitting next to me?

BILLY CONNOLLY: No cause it went quite quickly. At first you go, oh my God they're sitting me next to her. And God bless her, she's a nice enough woman, and ah it's just, I'm not doing the big simpleton from Scotland thing, but I don't know what's expected of me here. You know, do you say, 'Oh you must', 'I must tell', are you allow to do that?


BILLY CONNOLLY: 'Oh you must hear this and blah blah blah ...' 'Do you like onions?' 'Are you allowed to do that, you know?' I don't know what you're allowed. I can't, the knives and forks are not a problem and all that, but Elton John had dinner with the Queen Mother and, and put sugar on his steak you know?


BILLY CONNOLLY: He had never seen that sugar thing and he's shaking like that...


ANDREW DENTON: It killed her you know. So there's no guide, nobody says to you look...

BILLY CONNOLLY: No they don't, it was in a house. It was in a person's house. It was Prince Andrew's house when he was married to Fergie.


BILLY CONNOLLY: ...The, what's he? The Duke of York. The grand old Duke of York and it was there. And so it was kind of, it wasn't like going to the palace and that, that's a nightmare. Well it's not a nightmare but it's stiff.

ANDREW DENTON: Cause you went there, you got the CBE didn't you?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I did yes. I'm a Commander.

ANDREW DENTON: Yes, I'm sorry.

BILLY CONNOLLY: A commander of the British empire which is shrinking in its...

ANDREW DENTON: Yes that's right, yeah. But you still have great sway in the Falkland Islands.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye we do indeed sir, and we're very big in the Hebrides.

ANDREW DENTON: Oh good for you.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yes dash at all sir.

ANDREW DENTON: So, so when you...

BILLY CONNOLLY: I was thinking of taking over somewhere.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Cause what's the point of being a Commander when you've nothing to command.


BILLY CONNOLLY: I thought maybe a lighthouse or something. I thought we could start you know small, beat up people in the lighthouse and run up the flag and then move to maybe Ireland you know? Cause it's, and I want a fancy uniform. I would like, I think it's unfair to be a Commander with no uniform. A heart with a lot of feathers, a lot of epil, epil job and a lot of ding a ling around here. A lot of bling.

ANDREW DENTON: A lot of bling. Official bling and Dalmatian eyes buckling...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah absolutely.

ANDREW DENTON: Well Australia still bends over for royalty so walk on in.

BILLY CONNOLLY: I am all for it. I think you know you're doing rather well.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Everybody's amazed that you've got the Queen on the money.


BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah you people think you're already...

ANDREW DENTON: That's the only way we know it's of value.

BILLY CONNOLLY: The public, everybody already thinks you are. Don't you know that? Only the British and, and most of them don't know that you're not a republic. Every, maybe the Canadians know you're not a republic but everybody else thinks you are.

ANDREW DENTON: But we're too scared to be a republic because...

BILLY CONNOLLY: You already are. So why don't you just get on with it and live with the presumption. It's the same as living with the real thing. It's only a word. Bollocks just get on with it. Be a republic.

ANDREW DENTON: I'm leaping around here amongst the many films you've made American, you made one called 'Beautiful Joe' with Sharon Stone.


ANDREW DENTON: In which you had a sex scene, a love scene.

BILLY CONNOLLY: No I had a, I was in bed. I was sleeping.


ANDREW DENTON: You hadn't seen that script...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah I was sleeping and she kisses me on the back and ah she was supposed to kiss me on the face but at that point she wasn't talking to me.


ANDREW DENTON: Why not? Why not?

BILLY CONNOLLY: She fell out with me. It was a shame. She had been lied to by the production people and about me wanting away. And it was a load of nonsense anyway. But aye, she got very upset about it and thought it was my fault. And it certainly wasn't and now she knows it wasn't my fault and, so we had to do the scene like that you know? I've made, ah I did a Tom Cruise, the 'Last Samurai'.

ANDREW DENTON: What was that like working ...



BILLY CONNOLLY: What a great guy. What a nice man...

ANDREW DENTON: Really, because there's all these rumours about how you're not suppose to look him in the eyes...



BILLY CONNOLLY: He's a delightful guy, an absolute delight and not only are you allowed to look him in the eyes he's the most approachable man. He was driving to work in New Zealand and they stopped and fixed a puncture in a guy's car. Ay, he was giving a hand having his mate get out getting the old jack up there. Yeah, that's the kind of guy he is, a delightful fellow.

ANDREW DENTON: The guy was a Scientologist by the time he changed the car.

BILLY CONNOLLY: No and he can speak about that as well...


BILLY CONNOLLY: ...If you ask him. You know I didn't bother to ask him but I've seen him, cause I don't you know religion and me just, I just lose the will to live.



ANDREW DENTON: That's the point.

BILLY CONNOLLY: You know oh...used to be on drugs and ...


ANDREW DENTON: Didn't you flirt with Buddhism for a while?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye! I do still have a wee go.



BILLY CONNOLLY: Give it a go Bill! No I learnt to meditate when I go with Pamela who got me straight eventually, ah with all that stuff I was doing. And she said, 'You know you should meditate, it would straight you out a little'. And she, I went to the Buddhist centre in London and learned how to meditate, and aye, and I do it from time to time. I took little bits from it and, they're great and I learned little things. There's a little Buddhist saying that says, 'Learn what you should be doing and do it.' And it sounds too simple to be, to have any importance, but it's absolutely true.

The number of people I've met who are doing things they don't like and it's making them really, you know... The number of guys I knew when I worked on the Clyde who hated their job, didn't like their wife that much and didn't like the place where they lived. And I thought, how can you do this every day? But you would be astonished at the number of people who do that, every day of their lives. And, the whole trick is, I would say to my children when you're going along the road and you're at the library or wherever you are, watch what you're drawn to. Watch the type of shops, the windows you always hang out at. Just listen to yourself and see what you're being drawn to and don't choose a career. You know let it happen to you. It'll choose you.

ANDREW DENTON: If you find yourself constantly drawn to say a golf shop or a music shop and a Carpenter's...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Suicide is always an answer.


BILLY CONNOLLY: It's always an answer.

ANDREW DENTON: Do you have a perfect moment that you carry with you?



BILLY CONNOLLY: No. Never, never. I have, I have, I have some good... Oh I had a beauty the other day and it didn't work. There was an empty seat in the theatre next to a woman and I was talking away and I said, 'Where's he?' And she said, 'He didn't turn up', and I said, 'Do you know him?' She said, 'Yeah he's a crazy Irish guy.' I said, 'do you have a phone?' 'Yeah'. I said, 'Do you know his number?' 'Yeah'. I said, 'Give him a ring. Give it to me. You get his number and give it to me'. And I was going to phone the guy and it never, she did, I don't know what she did but I get this weird English voice you know? It could have been brilliant to nail the guy, where he's in the pub wherever he was, and say, 'Get your arse down here', you know? But it just, that would have been a magical moment. But it never happened. But I don't carry big, big moments around with me. They don't exist for me.

ANDREW DENTON: And you share with every comedian the danger of it not working.


ANDREW DENTON: And I, because we don't know what happened here in Australia, but a couple of years ago, with the hostage Ken Biggley...


ANDREW DENTON: When you made comments there was, there was a furore about it...


ANDREW DENTON: Who he was, a hostage...


ANDREW DENTON: He was later executed...


ANDREW DENTON: What happened?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Well I'm not going to go into what I said because I can't actually remember. Ay because I change things every day...

ANDREW DENTON: The way it was reported here is that what you said was, 'Don't you wish they'd just get on with it.'

BILLY CONNOLLY: I know and I never said that in a million years. I would never say that about a working guy in my life you know? And that's the reason I don't speak to journalists anymore. Just I've had it, I've had it up to here with those lying bastards who would say anything you know, not one of them were at my show. Not a single one of the guys who reported that were at my show. They don't know what I said.

ANDREW DENTON: They reported that at least one member of the audience took exception to it.


ANDREW DENTON: Didn't happen?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Find him. Find him.

ANDREW DENTON: So what did, what...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Get me his name. That's another thing. Oh, a man who, who didn't want to be named said... Bollocks, that's a way of lying. My whole issue was with people like CNN and you can see them getting more and more nervous as the days go on and nothing's happening here and they're running out of things to say and that was the sort of gist of it that I was doing. I can't remember the actual words and I'm not going to get myself deeper in the shit with these people cause they'll just run with it again and I hate them for it. I must say it

ANDREW DENTON: Well you are ADD and...


ANDREW DENTON: There was a lovely, in the Pamela's book Brave Mouth, she talked about your 60th birthday...


ANDREW DENTON: And how you went off by yourself and she went to find you and said are you okay? Cause a big party was happening and you said no look it's, being alone it's not the, the absence of other people I seek. It's the, it's the presence of me.


ANDREW DENTON: How intense is that feeling?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh it's, it's funny. I was speaking about that this morning to Pamela before I left Cairns. She's up there with a boat and we were talking about her dream of being in the yacht and all that. I said well my dream's a hermit. I'd like to be a hermit in a cave. Aloneness has always really, really appealed to me and I love being alone. I used to go on holiday alone when I was a teenager.

ANDREW DENTON: How do you reconcile that've got a family?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye I have a family and it's great but I have a room...


BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah I have a little hidey-hole...


BILLY CONNOLLY: ...Aye, where I go and sit. But they come in and all that.

ANDREW DENTON: So being ADD, when you're alone, is your brain still fizzing?

BILLY CONNOLLY: No. No it kind of fizzles down to nothing. Nothing at all. That's why I like meditation it stops the sort of telephone exchange in your head you know [makes sound]. You just sshhhh and the whole thing's about nothing. Nothing. And it's funny to go looking for nothing and it's, but it's there.

ANDREW DENTON: In Pamela's book about you and your childhood, you talked about how from a young kid you were always told you were worthless.


ANDREW DENTON: And all your life you've had this fear that you'd be found out.


ANDREW DENTON: Did it feel a bit like that?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh that comes all the time.



ANDREW DENTON: Yeah? Even now?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah you have these...

ANDREW DENTON: Commander of the Empire.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Aye Commander, you have to deal with it, just you find a way to deal with it. It's like grief. You know, you think you're going to a... Suppose you lose your parents or something and you've never been so sad and you think you'll never get over it. And then time passes and you find that you don't love them any less. But you've found a place to tuck them and you can access it whenever you want. Well that's what I do with a lot of things. I just, you know, that kind of fear of being found out and a hand on my shoulder saying you're a welder again tomorrow morning. I hope you've had your fun. Well that, you can tuck that away, and you're not alone with that. Lots and lots of, loads of people in show business have got it. We're a very unsure crowd you know. Do you know a lot of people don't believe the number of shy people in show business. You know you would think that was not a place for the shy but it's a sort of radical way of dealing with your shyness.

ANDREW DENTON: Do you think of yourself as shy?

BILLY CONNOLLY: No I'm not, I'm not shy.


ANDREW DENTON: Good call. I wouldn't have believed you if you said you were.

BILLY CONNOLLY: No I'm not the shyest person in the world.

ANDREW DENTON: But when you're in company, at lunch with the Queen or whatever, is there's a part of you going I just want to be...



BILLY CONNOLLY: All the time yeah and there's a funny part of me that, that amuses me greatly where I have friends like Ozzie Osborne or Eric Clapton and people like that and, and when I'm with them they think I'm their friend but I'm an actual fan. I've never stopped being a fan and I'm still nervous.

ANDREW DENTON: How do you deal with that? Do you over-compensate?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I don't know. I don't know how you deal with that. It's still there. Steve Martin's another one. I'm still a fan. I'm not his friend. He may consider himself my friend, I hope so but I'm a fan. Sean Connery you know? I know him very well but I'm a fan you know and I'm sure he thinks I'm his friend.

ANDREW DENTON: You mentioned Pam before going on her cruise. Not a cruise a voyage which she, she was away for a year...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah. She's still away. She's still...

ANDREW DENTON: Still away?

BILLY CONNOLLY: ...Yeah. She's gone up to the far-east now, up to Indonesia and all that.

ANDREW DENTON: It's a big thing to do. What impact has that had on the family?

BILLY CONNOLLY: It has a profound [laughing], it has a rather profound effect on the family. [Noise] No the girls are all going to college now and I'm on the road so it doesn't really affect anybody in the family except that we sold the house in Los Angeles and everybody thought that was like home and we've got another two houses, the Scottish one and one in the Mediterranean, so, but the one that was home. The one the girls were brought up in is sold and that has become a kind of problem that we didn't expect to happen you know because we didn't regard it as home but we forget the girls were there since they were little girls. We were fifteen years in America.

ANDREW DENTON: But your wife has gone on this extraordinary journey which...


ANDREW DENTON: ...Not without its dangers.

BILLY CONNOLLY: It's brilliant yeah.

ANDREW DENTON: Are you full of admiration?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I am indeed. Yeah.

ANDREW DENTON: Some envy as well?

BILLY CONNOLLY: A little envy. Not, not what you would call envy. I'm in admiration because I've pretty much lived my dream you know? And Pamela always had this yachty kind of sailing dream thing going and I think it's brilliant that she's doing it and fulfilling it. I love to see people fulfilling these things that are just fantasies and dreams. I think that's a wonderful, wonderful thing to do for yourself.

ANDREW DENTON: Has it changed her?

BILLY CONNOLLY: It's changed her radically. Absolutely. It's changed me as well and it's changed our, our relationship.

ANDREW DENTON: How, how so?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I said to her this morning, I said, 'That's weird', I said, 'You shine when I meet you. I'm not quite sure what you're doing myself.' You know, it's like meeting her for the first time sometimes.

ANDREW DENTON: What did she say?

BILLY CONNOLLY: And she, she well she's a psychologist. They've got answers for everything.


ANDREW DENTON: Well she is and she's written those two books about you.


ANDREW DENTON: And, and she specialises in relationships and sexual relationships and so forth.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah, yeah sex is her thing. Sexuality yeah.

ANDREW DENTON: Is there part of you that thinks you know when you're making love she's taking notes?

BILLY CONNOLLY: No it's not, I thought it might be like that, but it isn't you know? She's not the least bit... I'm very dull sexually. You know you wouldn't want to be making notes from me. You'd need a very small notebook. But she's more interested...

ANDREW DENTON: See I find that hard to believe...

BILLY CONNOLLY: ... And transgender she likes. Transsexual and transgender people seem to be what she's most obsessed with. But I don't, it doesn't affect my sex life at all somebody writing about sexuality. Because we were married before she went away and became a psychologist and all that sexuality, so you just bungle along the way you were doing before. It's no different.

ANDREW DENTON: Having her write two books about you - I mean there you are both focused on you for how ever many years that process was...


ANDREW DENTON: Did it, feel weird?

BILLY CONNOLLY: Yeah it's terrible. You're lying in bed answering impertinent questions and it's going through your childhood, isn't so pleasant. You shouldn't go back there. After I talked about it I would find myself thinking about it for ages. You know I didn't really want to have that baggage around me and... But apart from that it was great. She made a great job of it I thought, you know? She, the book was ver,y very well done and very honest.

ANDREW DENTON: It was searingly honest and you know I think most people now know about what happened you know...


ANDREW DENTON: Your mum left you, your dad molested you, aunts abused you, all of this...


ANDREW DENTON: ...Stuff which is kind of a case study for somebody...

BILLY CONNOLLY: See that was the panic for me. I don't want to look like a victim you know? You get that show business, 'Oh my life was terrible. Not only am I multi-talented, I had a bad start, you know'. Like I'm bored shitless with that kind of thinking. I've had it with that kind of story, so I didn't want...

ANDREW DENTON: But it doesn't because of what your life is. I mean...


ANDREW DENTON: ... You're so much not a victim.


ANDREW DENTON: I mean most people in that situation would have turned out differently I think. Why was it that you didn't get filled with hate?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I haven't a clue. I think I'm not intelligent enough to work it out. You know certainly when I was a, when I was a, because of this ADD thing you think you're, you're not very bright and you're told constantly that you're not very bright. So what you do is you hang out with the not very bright guys. But the wonderful thing about the not very bright guys is they're funny. And anything I ever became is due to my friends. It didn't happen at home and it didn't happen at school.

ANDREW DENTON: You said before you didn't want to be seen as a victim and one of the really nice things you said about your dad who sexually molested you...


ANDREW DENTON: You love his memory as you loved him when he was alive even though he was disloyal to you.

BILLY CONNOLLY: And it's of no consequence the disloyalty. I loved him then, I love him now.

ANDREW DENTON: Which is a really fantastic thing to be able to say...


ANDREW DENTON: To be able to move on from that.

BILLY CONNOLLY: You have to and forgiveness is a part of it too. It sounds a bit conceited that you're going to forgive someone but you can, you can even forgive dead people. You know just because they're dead doesn't mean you can't forgive things. I think of the nice guy that I knew you know? I wanted him to love me when he was around and I think he did. I think he didn't know how to, how to, how to do it. The abuse, sexual abuse is another story. I don't really know much, his background what did this, this thing to him that he felt he needed to do this to me, eh that's another story. And I was really, it sounds stupid but it's none of my business really what happened to him. And what, you know, that's his, his business. But what, what went on between us was an aberration. It happened then. I can deal with it. I don't find it a problem at all and I like talking to other kid, guys who, who, who that it happened to.

ANDREW DENTON: Just going back to Pam you said that it's changed the relationship.


ANDREW DENTON: Is that a good thing or is...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Very, very good thing. Very, very good indeed. I think healthy relationships are like language. If they're not in a constant state of change they die. You know there's, if you just let it become beige it's over. You know if you can't speak to one another, if you're not friends it's finished. You can, you can have as much sex as you like and as many things as you please and as nice a house and, and happy nice children but it's over, it's pretty much over if you don't, if you're not in a constant stage of change. And if you don't appreciate the change in one another and I, I find the whole thing very exciting. It makes her very attractive to me and she kind of misses me about the place when she's away and then when I come back it's fun, fun, fun and the...


BILLY CONNOLLY: ... Yeah, you know what I mean?


BILLY CONNOLLY: I don't mean sex.

ANDREW DENTON: No, no're different people...

BILLY CONNOLLY:'s very nice but...

ANDREW DENTON: ... Talk about yeah...

BILLY CONNOLLY: But as I say when we meet again, it's like meeting an old pal, you know, and it's very, very nice. And I think this constant change is the thing you know? If you're joining the golf club and the bowling club and, and your wife knits and waits for you to come home, well you're kind of doomed you know?

ANDREW DENTON: You're a grandfather now.

BILLY CONNOLLY: I am yes and...

ANDREW DENTON: You've got two grandkids.

BILLY CONNOLLY: ...They're coming on Wednesday, yeah ,and I haven't seen the wee one yet Barbara.


BILLY CONNOLLY: She was born in September.

ANDREW DENTON: Okay so what kind of a grandfather are you?


ANDREW DENTON: What are your rules for grandfather...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh just lie a lot. Yeah did I ever tell you about the time I fought the lion? Come here, sit down. There we were on a train...

ANDREW DENTON: Cause you love babies don't you?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I love them. I cannot leave them alone.

ANDREW DENTON: So as it's William and Barbara, as they get older...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh, Barbara Joy yeah, as they get older what?

ANDREW DENTON: Well are you, are you going to feed them misinformation or are you going to feed them fairly tale stories...

BILLY CONNOLLY: Misinformation all the time, yes just lie to them...

BILLY CONNOLLY: You know Walter, who's the boy, he's coming on Wednesday and he said on the telephone that he's very excited about it. I said 'How do you feel about coming to Australia?' He said, 'I'm very incited.'

ANDREW DENTON: He must have seen some Danish cartoons, he's well and truly...


ANDREW DENTON: What is, what's left to do for you?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I don't know.

ANDREW DENTON: You've achieved your dreams but what do you want to do?

BILLY CONNOLLY: I just want to look in more shop windows and play my banjo. I'm a, I'm a simpleton. I want to sing and dance until I die. Play my banjo...

ANDREW DENTON: Would you like to...

BILLY CONNOLLY: ...Play with the children, have a laugh. I laugh a lot and that helps a great deal.

ANDREW DENTON: Would you like to finish this interview with some flailing?

BILLY CONNOLLY: What? What? I don't, I don't have my banjo.

ANDREW DENTON: We've got one.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Have you got one?

ANDREW DENTON: Yeah. [Calls to third party]. I don't know, I hope it's a good one.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh whose is that?

ANDREW DENTON: Yours for the moment.

BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh that's a lovely wee banjo... Come here, oh my God!

ANDREW DENTON: Is this valuable?

BILLY CONNOLLY: It's out of tune but bugger it. Oh no, it won't bugger it.

ANDREW DENTON: Do you want some picks or are you right?



Billy Connolly playing banjo


Billy Connolly playing banjo


ANDREW DENTON: Billy Connolly.


ANDREW DENTON: Thank you sir. Thank you so much.


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